Cardiac muscle cells exhibit two related but distinct modes of growth that are highly regulated during development and disease. Cardiac myocytes rapidly proliferate during fetal life but exit the cell cycle irreversibly soon after birth, following which the predominant form of growth shifts from hyperplastic to hypertrophic. Much research has focused on identifying the candidate mitogens, hypertrophic agonists, and signaling pathways that mediate these processes in isolated cells. What drives the proliferative growth of embryonic myocardium in vivo and the mechanisms by which adult cardiac myocytes hypertrophy in vivo are less clear. Efforts to answer these questions have benefited from rapid progress made in techniques to manipulate the murine genome. Complementary technologies for gain- and loss-of-function now permit a mutational analysis of these growth control pathways in vivo in the intact heart. These studies have confirmed the importance of suspected pathways, have implicated unexpected pathways as well, and have led to new paradigms for the control of cardiac growth.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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